The Universiti Malaya Association of New Youth (Umany) strongly criticises the suppression of freedom of speech by the government and urges the release of Safwan Anang.
The former leader of student movement and former president of Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM), Safwan Anang was charged with sedition with another four social activists and politician on May 29, 2013. They were charged of sedition for their speeches delivered at The Kuala Lumpur And Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH).
Before this, Safwan was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Safwan later appealed and the sentence was reduced to a fine of RM5,000. On Monday (July 18), the deputy public prosecutor will appeal for a stiffer penalty, which is jail sentence, to be imposed. Umany firmly believe that Safwan is not guilty based on the following reasons:
First, the Sedition Act suppresses freedom of speech
The government has been repeatedly using the Sedition Act to trample on the freedom of speech and hence violated Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech. Moreover, the Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression”, which has categorically listed the freedom of speech as an important element of human rights.
However in Malaysia, in order to stop the people from saying anything that is not in favour of the government, those in power use the draconian law at their own will to suppress freedom of speech by calling the speeches as suspicious. Umany believes that the government’s motive is crystal clear: to deter the people from criticising the government so as to maintain its already rotten power and to linger on for as long as it could.
Second, an all-out attack to suppress the social activists
To save our beloved Malaysia from the corrupted system, the social activists have always been in the front line to take actions including calling out the people to propel our country’s reformation. This is the reason of them being a thorn in the government’s side. And so, the government has been repeatedly using the draconian law to silent the call for reformation and to suppress ruthlessly many social activists and politicians.
Umany is of the opinion that social activists are the crucial propellant of a nation’s reform and so their opinion must be respected and valued, especially by the government. The act of suppressing social activists must be condemned.
Umany firmly believes that the Sedition Act must be repealed, and once again urge the court to acquit Safwan in order to return the basic human right - freedom of speech - to all Malaysians.